Officials from the NI Department of Justice gave evidence this afternoon on the way forward following consultation over the summer on the mechanism for setting the personal injury discount rate. There are two significant developments:
- First that the officials indicated that on balance the Department had concluded it would not proceed to reset the existing rate based on the 1996 Act, ILGS yields and Wells v Wells.
- Second is that the Department will seek to introduce legislation quickly to deliver a new legal framework for setting the discount rate.
In 2017 in Smith v Lancashire the Court of Appeal held that exclusion of a deceased’s co-habiting partner from entitlement to bereavement damages under s1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 breached European Convention rights. That outcome placed the government under an obligation to amend the Act (detailed in this post back in February). This specific and limited change has just moved closer, with the necessary draft order being approved in the House of Lords last week and expected to take effect soon.
Harry Roberts’s case arose out of brain damage sustained during his birth in Germany in June 2000. Infant brain injury cases can be among the most expensive claims if, as is usual, there is a high annual care need and a lengthy life expectancy. This case has added complications because of the cross-border setting and because of a dispute on limitation despite the claimant’s minority.